Lightning rally stops 60 feet short
Eastview softball team falls to Burnsville 2-1 in section tourney
As often is the case in playoff games, once it’s over one team quickly packs its gear and leaves while the other sticks around, posing for photos and speaking with well-wishers.
Only this time the team that won was the one hustling to catch its bus. Burnsville held off Eastview 2-1 in a Section 3AAA softball elimination game Tuesday afternoon and Eagan High School and needed to be back less than 24 hours later to face Bloomington Jefferson for the championship. Jefferson won the section title with a 9-4 victory over Burnsville on Thursday.
Eastview, meanwhile, took over the diamond for an elaborate ceremony to say goodbye to the seven seniors on the team. The underclassmen, grouped by age, waited at each base as the seniors circled the bases one last time for the Lightning before finally greeting the coaches at home plate.
“We’re graduating some people with a lot of heart,” said Nicole Newton, one of the Eastview coaches. “The seventh inning (Tuesday) is what softball is all about – we had the tying run at third base with two out. Burnsville’s a great team. They’ll always be competitive as long as Hillary (Hansen, the Blaze’s head coach) is there. But we fought hard.”
Samantha Weinberg, whose homer in the fifth inning produced Eastview’s run, led off the seventh inning with a single and moved to second on Kara Sjostrom’s sacrifice bunt. Marissa Leners then ran for Weinberg and moved to third on a groundout. A foul popup to the catcher ended the game.
Weinberg is one of seven seniors on an Eastview team that finished 13-9 and knocked off the section’s No. 2 seed, Lakeville North, during the playoffs. Also graduating are Paige Palkovich, Ariana Hipolito, Alyssa Besch, Sophie Albright, Meredith Crocker and Sophie Runing. Palkovich, who pitched and played shortstop for the Lightning, will join the University of Minnesota softball team next year.
Eastview also has a promising future with ninth-graders such as Sjostrom, outfielder Melissa Barry and Kerrigan Hoshaw, the starting pitcher Tuesday against Burnsville.
Newton is one of several Eastview assistant coaches who managed the varsity program on an interim basis following the resignation of former head coach Mike Haugh over the winter. The coaching situation for 2013 has yet to be finalized, although Newton said she anticipates she and her colleagues will remain involved with the program.
The players seemed not to be bothered by the changes.
“All of the coaches on staff have been here for a while,” Newton said. “The players knew us, on and off the field. I’m sure there was a learning curve for them, but they did a great job with it.”